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Boeing tops Airbus on orders for new wide body planes

By Alwyn Scott

SEATTLE, Aug 8 (Reuters) - At mid-year, Boeing Co is crushing Airbus in the wide body jetliner market.

Boeing has 273 net orders through July compared with a negative 27 for Airbus due to cancellations. The tally underscores the fierce battle between the world's two largest plane makers to dominate sales of the lucrative market for wide body planes, a market Boeing values at $2.5 trillion over the next 20 years.

Earlier in the week, Airbus said it topped Boeing in unadjusted orders for all types of planes so far in 2014, saying it won 980 new orders through July, compared with just 837 for Boeing.

But Boeing hit back on Thursday, pointing out that after adjusting for cancellations, Boeing is in the lead, with 823 net orders so far, versus 705 for Airbus. Boeing also notes that in July it booked unadjusted 324 orders - a record.

"July turned out to be a very good month," Senior Vice President Randy Tinseth wrote in his blog on Thursday.

To be fair, Boeing's lead reflects an advantageous point in time. Boeing had been taking commitments for its new 777X aircraft before it launched the jet development program last November. As expected, airlines have turned many of those commitments into firm orders this year.

In contrast, Airbus launched its new A330neo, a low-cost rival to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, at the Farnborough Airshow outside London last month. It won 127 commitments, but those will not be counted as firm orders until airlines confirm them throughout the rest of the year.

Airbus also suffered two high-profile cancellations last month. Just before the air show, Emirates Airline nixed 70 orders for the new Airbus A350 wide body plane, which has not had a net new order this year, according to Airbus' tally.

Just after the show, Japan's Skymark Airlines Inc canceled six Airbus A380 superjumbos, a plane that has struggled to find buyers outside large Middle Eastern carriers.

"The most important number is that 127 commitments," Airbus spokeswoman Maryanne Greczyn said on Friday. "Once we firm those up, it will obviously alter the order roster significantly." (Reporting by Alwyn Scott and Tim Hepher; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)